Stock market plunges again amid political volatility, rising virus fears

By: News Desk
Published: 02:56 PM, 2 Nov, 2020
Stock market plunges again amid political volatility, rising virus fears
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Pakistan Stock Exchange Monday got another battering amid volatile political situation and rising coronavirus cases in the country as well as around the globe.

The fears of another round of lockdowns have pushed the benchmark index down nearly 1,000 points within an hour of the opening bell and went on to shed 1100 points before showing some recovery.

At close, the KSE-100 index saw a 1.94% decrease as it shed 775.82 points and was closed at 39,112.18.

The KSE-100 index opened at 39,888 on the first trading day of the week and was soon faced a blood bath shedding 1000 points. The KSE-100 index went as low as 38,778.68 at midday point before seeing a little surge.

Commercial banks were among the top losers, followed by oil and gas exploration companies, cement, and oil and gas marketing companies.

The stocks of 359 companies have been traded, of which 82 gained value, 261 declined and 16 remained unchanged.

Volumes were led by Hascol, with 32.4 million shares traded. Unity Foods Ltd, Pakistan International Bulk Terminal Ltd (PIBTL), Agha Steel Industries Ltd, Power Cement Ltd and Pakistan Refinery Limited (PRL) closed out the top five symbols traded, with volumes of 31.2m, 20.1m, 16.76m and 16.71m, respectively.

Hascol shares were closed at Rs13.82 as it saw a Rs1.07 decrease. UNITY gained Rs0.37 with closing price of Rs23.27. The other company whose shares ended in positive in top five traded companies was AGHA who gained Rs2.4 to close at Rs34.40. PIBTL and PRL declined by Rs0.23 and Rs1.04 and were closed at Rs12.25 and Rs16.80 respectively.

Asia, European markets mostly up

Equity markets mostly rose Monday following last week's painful global sell-off, with attention on the American presidential election which comes against a backdrop of rising coronavirus infections across the United States and Europe.

After months of rallying from their March lows, equities were brought to a juddering halt in October as virus cases surged, forcing governments across Europe to reimpose tough lockdown measures, throwing a tentative economic rebound into chaos and battering oil prices.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the weekend said England would shut up shop as he struggled to temper a second wave, with similar measures taken by France, Portugal, Austria, Greece and Ireland. Germany, Spain and Italy are also enforcing strict containment measures.

The moves fanned fears that many businesses could go under, with Michael Kill, CEO of the Night Time Industries Association, which lobbies for the entertainment and hospitality sector, saying firms faced "financial Armageddon".

The disease is also rampant across the United States, which last week recorded a record number of infections, dealing a further blow to Donald Trump's hopes of re-election on Tuesday.

The president continues to trail Joe Biden in national and battleground polls, but markets remain on edge with Trump's surprise win in 2016 in mind, while there are also worries a tight result could be contested.

"This week would have been chaotic for investors at any rate, but viewed through the intensifying pandemic lens as Covid-19 rages in the West, it could spell mayhem," said Axi strategist Stephen Innes. "It might even flip the whole picture upside down for any post-election reflation trade."

"The virus's latest evolution is complicated by a series of stricter lockdowns putting the eurozone in the vanguard of concerns around the fourth-quarter economic implosion, leaning against global risk sentiment."

He added that the result on Tuesday would have a major impact on the size of any expected fiscal stimulus for the US economy.

'Huge' week ahead

Polls suggest a Biden win could come with a Democratic sweep of both houses of Congress, which would likely see a huge spending package passed, though a win for Republicans in either of the races is expected to see a much smaller sum.

"Whichever way you look at it, this coming week will be huge for US and global markets," said Simon Ballard, at First Abu Dhabi Bank PJSC.

All three main indexes on Wall Street finished in the red Friday, with the Nasdaq tumbling more than two percent, ending their worst week and month since March.

Asian markets started the week brightly. Tokyo, Hong Kong and Seoul were all more than one percent higher, while Singapore put on 0.8 percent, and Sydney and Taipei added 0.4 percent. But Shanghai was barely moved while Mumbai, Jakarta and Wellington fell.

London edged down at the open but Paris and Frankfurt rose. "Economic activity is likely to dip on account of the tighter restrictions, and that will probably be the theme of the markets in the near-term," said CMC Markets analyst David Madden.

"The health crisis is ratcheting up in terms of new Covid-19 cases and hospitalisation rates, and there is a sense things are going to get worse before they get better."

Oil prices tumbled as the reimposition of lockdowns caused worries about demand, while selling was also fanned by a pick-up in Libyan output in the wake of a peace deal to end almost 10 years of civil war.